The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts (GSEM) awarded Walpole High School junior Catherine (Katie) Hurwitz the Gold Award, the highest achievement a Girl Scout can attain.
Hurwitz was honored at the State House on June 8, and she received the physical award on June 10 where she was honored through a flag ceremony and recognition by representatives who spoke of her efforts: dedicating 80-100 hours to her Gold Award Project, a six-week writing program entitled “Genres of the Generations.”
“I have always enjoyed writing,” Hurwitz said. “I am introverted in person, but when I write, I have a unique voice I am not afraid to express. I want to inspire the community to find their voice and share it.”
The “Genre Weeks” occured from Aug. through Feb. and consisted of six writing-themed weeks including Poetry Week, Screenplay Week, Fiction/Fantasy Week, Nonfiction/Essay/Persuasive Week, Memoir/Narrative Week and Mystery/Thriller Week. Most weeks consisted of three events: a presentation by an accomplished writer, a workshop for students in third grade to fifth grade and an open-mic night for all students to share their work in that week’s genre.
“The Fiction/Fantasy Week was definitely the most successful Genre Week,” Hurwitz said. “After Peter H. Reynolds’ presentation, many families bought copies of his book for him to sign. The writing workshop worked out exactly how I envisioned, as three members of my team wrote a story that stemmed into alternate possibilities, similar to the Goosebump books.”
To receive this award, Girl Scout Seniors or Ambassadors must first earn a Silver Award, and then they must put a minimum of 80 hours into the project of their choice that helps the community in some way.
Prior to receiving her award, Hurwitz received the Bronze Award in fifth grade when her troop refurnished the upper level of the Walpole Scout House. Subsequently, Hurwitz received her Silver Award in eighth grade when she and a friend organized eight two-hour cooking classes promoting healthy eating to the youth.
Even with the conclusion of her Gold Award Project, Hurwitz still plans to implement similar, writing-oriented events in the future.
“My team is planning on making this at least an annual event, as this is something we wished that we had going into high school,” Hurwitz said. “Writing is something that we do every day and knowing about all the different genres is important for school, college and the workforce.”
Hurwitz also created a journal containing the writing of students from different grades as well as reviews about the submitted pieces of writing. Prominent figures such as Dan Santat, a children’s book writer and Vincent Zhou, an Olympic figure skater who is also a poet, wrote the reviews for the journal. The journals will be located at the Walpole High Library, Johnson Middle School, Fisher Elementary School, Walpole Public Library and Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham.
In the future, Hurwitz hopes to become an Adult Girl Scout and also a troop leader to continue her involvement with the organization.
“Since the beginning of Girl Scouts, we have learned the Girl Scout Law: ‘I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, responsible for what I say and do and be a sister to every Girl Scout,’” Hurwitz said. “I think I took these sayings to heart, and they have truly made me a better person.”